Union Kitchen And Tap

Eating Up And Down 101 In Encinitas Restaurant #18

After spending the summer eating our way through the Southwest, we’re back in town to eat our way up the west side of 101.

Union Kitchen And Tap is one of our go-to spots in Encinitas. It’s not far from Swami’s Beach, where we have been known to take a detour on our beach walks to sip some cocktails and nibble on appetizers before heading back to the sand.

Union Kitchen has plenty of outdoor seating options, including dog-friendly areas, so Farnsworth can join us and share some French fries. (Or flatbread, as he was on this visit on Father’s Day 2020!)

Farnsworth is ready for Union Kitchen's flatbread on a previous visit!

Union Dues

We have a long list of favorite dishes and cocktails here. However, they rotate their menu often, so there’s always something new to try.

They first opened in May 2011 with the motto “Stylish, but not stuffy.” At Union Kitchen, the menu features dishes made with fresh local ingredients. The also have wine, local brews, and fabulous craft cocktails.

In addition to two generous patios, they have sidewalk seating, spacious bar and restaurant seating, and a private dining room for special occasions. If you’re downtown San Diego, drop in on the Gas Lamp Quarter location.

A Seat at the Table

Tonight we are here midweek, just after the last of the summer tourists trickled out of town. It’s not busy, but on weekends and in high tourist season this place is jumping! The servers here are always very friendly and accommodating, but the Gen Z hostesses at the front can often be just shy of “quiet-quitting.” But not tonight, as our hostess is lively and seats us immediately.

We start with cocktails. My favorite is the “Purple Haze,” made with Mezcal, ginger liqueur, prickly pear, lime, and sage. It’s a beautiful purple color garnished with bright green fresh sage. Andy’s favorite cocktail is Up In Smoke: Mezcal, Reposado, Aztec cocoa, bitters, and orange. But tonight he steps out of his comfort zone and goes for something different: the Midnight Rider. It’s made with Maker’s Mark, brown sugar, black walnut bitters, and has a big peach speared on top.

If you prefer beer or wine, Union Kitchen has a good selection. If don’t partake of alcohol, some of the cocktails can be made into mocktails. Just ask your server.

Negotiating Nourishment

We are starving, so we start with Truffle Fries. They’re crispy fries tossed in truffle oil, truffle salt, parsley, and parmesan, topped with a Black Truffle Aioli, and served sizzling hot in a cast iron crock. Like I said, we are super hungry, so not one fry is left… and they stay crispy right to the last bite!

My entrée is watermelon salad, a seasonal treat that’s very refreshing on this hot day, and healthy after all our traveling. It’s a heaping plate of watermelon, avocado, arugula, and feta cheese. We are both craving some healthy fish, so I ask them to add some blackened salmon. It’s moist and tasty, and hits the spot.

Andy’s selection is the Pan-Seared Salmon on a bed of Swiss chard and harissa-roasted veggies, served with a side of apple kale slaw. He is very happy with his salmon. I steal a bite of his apple kale slaw. I need to make this at home! So good!

Labor of Love

Like I said, Union Kitchen is a favorite! We have to mention some other notable dishes to try, each reflecting their passion and dedication to a great meal experience.

They offer several tasty flatbreads. The maple-glazed and Sriracha roasted Brussels sprouts are fantastic. For something lighter, the Ahi Poke is great on a hot day. I love when they offer it in crispy wonton shells, like tacos! The creamy smoked salmon dip served with crispy bruschetta is to die for! And of course they have great burgers.

When you visit, you’ll be glad this is one “Union” that never strikes!